xi's moments
Home | China-Africa

Mandarin learning brightens job chances

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-19 10:14

Kenyan students show the words "Chinese Day" written in Chinese with a brush during an event celebrating the upcoming UN Chinese Language Day at the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, in Nairobi, Kenya, April 18, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

During her undergraduate studies at Kenya's Kenyatta University, Anne Nduta elected to pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology in the hope of becoming a counselor in the future. Incidentally, she learned about the Chinese language studies being offered at the Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University and decided to enroll for the course.

Little did she know this decision would open the door of limitless opportunities for her.

"Learning the Chinese language opened unimaginable opportunities for me," said Nduta, who works as a train dispatcher at Africa Star Railway Operation Company, the company in charge of Kenya's China-built Standard Gauge Railway, which links Kenya's two largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, despite having studied humanities at the undergraduate level.

After completing undergraduate studies in 2015, Nduta received a scholarship paid for by the Chinese government to further her studies in Chinese language at Shandong Normal University in China's Jinan city.

Upon her return to Kenya in 2017, she learned about a translator position at the railway company through a newspaper and submitted her application. With her background in Chinese language studies, she was able to get the job.

Nduta is one of the seven Kenyan female employees at Afristar, and they are all alumni of Shandong Normal University.

Her colleague Shalom Njeri would not have believed had she been told during her undergraduate studies that she would end up becoming a passenger locomotive driver. Njeri, who studied for an undergraduate degree in education, also received a scholarship to study Chinese.

Upper hand

"Despite having no background in locomotives and having studied to be a teacher, the fact that I had learned the Chinese language gave me an upper hand to get the training I needed from Afristar to serve as a locomotive driver," Njeri said.

Unlike her colleagues, Alice Gitau, who works as an assistant locomotive dispatcher as well as a passenger locomotive driver at Afristar, began her career as a translator in 2018 at China Road and Bridge Corporation in Kenya after her return from Shandong Normal University, where she studied Chinese language.

"Luckily, Afristar gave us the opportunity to go back to China for the locomotive driver training and that is how I became proficient at my job," Gitau said.

According to Nduta, the fact that she learned the Chinese language presented her with several opportunities to switch careers.

One might think it is a coincidence that the three women studied in the same university at the undergraduate level, pursued further studies at the same university in China and ended up working for the same company back in Kenya.

However, Nduta said that they share the common denominator of having an interest in learning new things and spreading their wings. She also appreciates the opportunity to work in areas that were previously a preserve of men.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349